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Immigration Information for Current Students 

Maintaining legal F-1 status

You must meet certain obligations to legally stay in the U.S. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious consequences up to and including jail time and deportation.

To keep your F-1 status you must:

  • Maintain a current passport. Your passport should always be at least 6 months valid into the future.
  • Maintain a current I-20 (program extensions must be requested from the International Center staff well before the expiration date listed on the I-20 form).
  • Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year:
    • EAP Program: 12 credit hours
    • Undergraduate (associate’s or bachelor's degree program) Studies: 12 credit hours
    • Graduate (master's degree program) Studies: 6 credit hours; 3 credit hour minimum for each 8 week session during the fall and spring semesters
    • Do not enroll in too many online courses. See International Center staff if you have questions about this.
  • Limit approved on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours on holidays or outside the year.
  • Do not accept unauthorized employment, either on or off campus.
  • Attend classes and maintain satisfactory grades.
  • Complete all required procedures if transferring to another institution.
  • Notify International Center staff of any changes to your academic program.
  • Notify the International Center staff of any changes in your local U.S. address within 10 days of moving.
  • Pay all tuition and fees at Columbia College.

Travel outside the U.S.

If you travel outside the United States, you must have the proper documents to return:

  • A valid, F-1 visa (except if you've been to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands within 30 days, subject to some restrictions)
  • A travel signature from an International Center staff member on the third page of your I-20. This travel signature should be no more than 6 months old when you travel.

Travel to certain countries may require additional documentation. Please contact International Center staff before traveling outside the United States.

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